- Editor’s Introduction Spring 2015
Almost thirty years ago, John Gronbeck-Tedesco inaugurated the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, creating a new venue for theatre scholars and artists to engage a multiplicity of discourses, and thereby “underscore the energetic diversities and disparities” inherent in the “singular” term, “dramatic theory and criticism.”1 The cofounding editor, together with Paul Newell Campbell, hoped that the journal would be “sufficiently long-lived to suggest over time the diversity” with which authors—and readers—might reflect upon our field of study theoretically and critically.2 I am honored to take on the editorship of the journal in its birth place at the University of Kansas, noting the enviable longevity of JDTC and the wide range of scholarship that has marked these pages over the past decades. Theatre and Performance Studies—and by proxy, the purview of the journal—have widened greatly since 1986. Although I only officially began my three-year term in January, the editorial staff and I have been compiling Volume XXIX.2, while planning future journal issues. I hope to re-invigorate the forum begun in the 1980s, whose ideas guided my doctoral studies, accompanying me in the ensuing years before I joined the KU faculty. As we move toward 2016, I will work to provide our readership with what JTDC has been known for since its inception: thought provoking articles about the connection between theory and practice, innovative theoretical approaches to dramatic literature, and critical insight into theatre performance.
Our Spring 2015 issue features a special section on Performance and Consciousness, co-edited by Peter Zazzali (KU) and Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe (University of Lincoln, UK) that examines the connections between the acting process and spectatorship. As a prelude to the special section, three authors explore how playwrights and performers may use theatre forms to incite active spectatorship. Sharyn Emery’s exploration of Ed Bullins’s dramatic work focuses on the social role of the audience in the New Black Theatre Movement of the late 1960s. Samy Azouz takes this further as he explicates the ritualistic, communal response of spectators in light of Amiri Baraka’s plays and his agenda for the theatre. Through the lens of intersectionality, Matthew McMahan considers the “racialized” body of Ada “Bricktop” Smith, showing how one African American performer and expat—with a knack for self-promotion—created a lucrative dance business for white clients in Paris of the 1920s. The authors call attention to the racial divide in the United States, both from abroad, and within the turbulent 1960s. The essayists lend insight into the process, whereby theatre makers necessitate an active response from their audiences.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the editors before me, John GT, Iris Smith Fischer, and Scott Magelssen, along with my colleagues at KU, who have led the journal well into the new millennium. I also thank the following people for their leadership and guidance: JDTC’s reviewers, our associate editors, and Mechele [End Page 5] Leon, Executive Managing Editor and chair of the KU Department of Theatre. Our list of private and institutional subscribers to JDTC continues to expand. We are grateful for your support. Thanks to our outgoing co-managing editor, doctoral student Alison Christy, for her assistance over the past year during the transition from a collective editorship to the start of my term. It is a pleasure to welcome back for her second year, Jeanne Tiehen, a fourth year doctoral student, who will be our Managing Editor. We owe our appreciation to Scott Knowles for his invaluable editorial advice, and to Dr. Danny Devlin, our subscriptions assistant since Fall 2011. We wish them the best as they take on teaching positions in theatre: Scott at Southern Utah University, and Danny at Bismarck State College. Finally, I heartily thank Beth Osborne for her service as Book Review Editor. Beth’s expertise over the past four years has eased the transition process to the journal’s new editorial structure. I am happy to welcome Dr. Christine Woodworth, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (New York), as our new Book Review Editor. Chris and Beth recently co-edited...